Sunday, October 17, 2010

POD vs Traditional Publishing

I know I blog a lot about the rapidly changing face of publishing, but how can I not? The industry is in a constant state of flux with the sudden burst of the e-publishing market and major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble's and Borders jumping into the self-publishing business. It's hard to predict what will be considered the "norm" in publishing in just the next five years.

As a writer, many of these changes make me a bit uneasy. The fear of the unknown and all. However, one change that I see in publishing that actually makes sense to me is the thought of publishing houses relying more on a print-on-demand model than the traditional printing model. Blame my couple of years here in the very green city of Austin, but the waste of materials that is associated with traditional publishing sickens me. I've heard and respect the argument that shorter print runs hurt authors, but I think that if it is done efficiently, publishing can eliminate a lot of the cost that goes into printing, warehousing, distributing, and eventually destroying thousands of books. The key to this of course, is efficiency, something the major publishing houses are not necessarily known for. It would be imperative that books are printed and on bookshelves in a short amount of time so that readers do not have the chance to lose interest. Can the big New York houses handle that? I'm not sure, but I think it's worth a try.

I read a few weeks ago that Ingram, one of the major book distributors, has partnered with Springer, a non-fiction publisher of medical and science books, to "reinvent the traditional publishing business model" by utilizing a print-on-demand model "when it makes the most economic sense." Although Springer's customer base is very different from genre fiction, I think everyone in the publishing business should look closely at this new partnership. It just may turn out to be a huge win for publishers, authors, consumers, and the environment as a whole.

What are your thoughts on POD versus the traditional model of printing tens of thousands of books, with the expectations that 35% - 45% of these books will be returned and destroyed? I'm interested in the pros and cons of either of these sides.


Charles Gramlich said...

POD just makes good sense it seems to me.

Farrah Rochon said...

I agree. If publishers can figure out a way to get it done quickly and efficiently, I think it's something that should be considered.

Liane Spicer said...

Yes it does make sense. The traditional model is broken in so many ways it simply cannot be sustained.

Jewel Amethyst said...

POD is great for established writers with name recognition. I don't think it works as well with newbies. But it does save trees. I'm all for efficient.

Shauna Roberts said...

I really like the idea of going into my neighborhood bookstore and buying any book I want and having it almost immediately, instead of waiting for it to arrive by mail.

On the other hand, almost all the books I buy in a traditional bookstore are impulse buys, spurred by seeing the cover and reading the description. If bookstores move to POD, they would have to have a sample of each book to browse, or I'd be unlikely to buy it.